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Slowing Down

“The desire for instant gratification keeps people out of the kitchen. People would rather have their food right away and put in little effort to get it. Many people use food to comfort themselves and they want to be comforted right away. Or they are just really pressed for time–too many commitments. Some of the things that keep us so busy are out of our hands, but sometimes I feel people choose to prioritize other things over healthy eating. Some things just have to go in order to eat well!”

-Sarah R. 


Here in America, we live in a society of increasing demands on our time. Bigger, better, faster — there’s always more to do, and not enough time to do it. So it’s no surprise that when we asked a question about the biggest barriers to home cooking, most readers answered “Not enough time!”.

Alex and I used to be the worst of the worst in this category. I was one of those people who was always on the run, scheduling myself down to the minute. I had no interest in “wasting” time to cook – so I mainly ate frozen pastry pockets or cereal for dinner.

Slowing down is painful. In many ways, it’s easier to be “addicted” to being busy. But as noted in the quote above, “some things just have to go in order to eat well.” In order to cook for ourselves, Alex and I have had to take a hard look at our lives and figure out what is important in order care for our health.

A few things we’ve had to start giving up include procrastination, disorganization, excessive TV or social media, over-scheduling our social lives, and overworking ourselves professionally. In the process, we’ve found such a joy in cooking that it’s also become our mode of relaxation and recreation — so we’re actually using the time we spend with family or friends cooking with or for them. We’ve found that cooking together after a long day at work brings us closer together than a few hours in front of the TV.

Also, we’ve found by sacrificing the time to home cook, we actually have more energy and feel more able to be productive than when our diet was based on processed and packaged foods. And guess what? Research may show that relaxing makes you more productive in the long run.

Starting to cook takes much more than just knowing how. It takes stepping back, slowing down, making priorities, and cutting out things that don’t build up. Unfortunately, there’s no magic a formula for solving the time crunch — it’s something you’ll have to {slowly} consider as you figure out a life rhythm that works for you.

A few questions to consider: 

-What things in my life are taking up the most time but are the least beneficial?

-Is my time spent relaxing truly relaxing? Could cooking become a relaxing / recreational activity?

-What ways could I restructure my life to have some time and space to cook (cooking for the week on weekends, becoming more organized, etc)?

-What things in my life do I fear giving up and why?


The Healthy & Whole project is a project to inspire home cooking and healthy whole foods eating, in order to improve public health. The goal is to provide inspiration and resources on how to eat a whole foods diet, become connected to your community, and care for others around you and the environment.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. “A few things we’ve had to start giving up include procrastination, disorganization, excessive TV or social media, over-scheduling our social lives, and overworking ourselves professionally.” – Words of magic right there, and I love the way you worded it. Start giving up those things that many feel of us feel are so important, and start to see just how much of life you’ll truly SEE. This is a fabulous article; can’t say enough about it. I’m still in the process of trying to give up disorganization and excessive TV – these things interfere so much with our time that we could learn to use much more wisely:)

  2. I can very much relate to your sentiment. I have to admit that, despite the fact that that I’ve been trying to slow down for quite a while, I still find myself overscheduling. I mean, even on maternity leave, I’ve pretty much make plans for every day. I hate ‘wasting’ time but now that I have a newborn baby, I can SO appreciate all of that ‘wasted’ time – especially as I chow down the second the baby goes to sleep in the hopes she’ll remain asleep for at least an hour. xo

    1. Haha! I feel you — I only recently have been able to start stepping back from constantly over-scheduling myself too! Thanks for your feedback — an I will have to consult you more on being a new mom and staying in the kitchen — I can only imagine the juggling it entails!

  3. what a great reminder…slow down…that is what i think family dinner’s are all about. slowing down. sitting together. talking. enjoying.

  4. Thank you for this post. It’s refreshing to hear this truth in a world so caught up in being busy. Stillness and quiet is important. I like what you said about being “addicted” to being busy. We almost don’t know what to do with ourselves when there isn’t a task to be accomplished… a deadline to meet… somewhere to be.

    In light of this truth, I found that when I am busy, it helps to prepare fresh, healthy food ahead of time. Make grabbing a snack of veggies and hummus as easy as grabbing a candy bar. Just a simple tip that has helped me quite a bit.

    Thanks for your website. It’s beautiful!

    1. Yes, it’s so much easier to eat healthy when good food is easily accessible — though it does require some advanced planning. Great tip!

  5. Great post. This echoes what my boyfriend and I have discovered as we have really started to focus on eating well and cooking for ourselves. Eating well and taking care of yourself is not a goal that this society, especially the working world, genuinely prizes.

    1. Yes, it seems as though it’s becoming harder to take care of one’s health as the working world becomes even more demanding. I heard a stat the other day that Americans worked 1 more month per year in 1990 than they did in 1970. Crazy!

  6. I just wanted to say I loved this post! It is like, you read my mind! I have just in the past six months changed my family’s whole way of eating and cooking. To do it, I made a list very similar to yours and rearranged my priorities. The change has made me fall in love with food and cooking. I look forward to more of or Healthy + Whole posts.

    1. Oh, awesome! It is exciting to hear from people who have made changes and fallen in love with the joy of cooking :) So glad to hear it!